Use Your Gifts for Good

Earlier this year Simplicity and Carolina Organizers volunteered their skills for a major transformation of the Fashion & Compassion’s* jewelry room. Even Laurie Martin, the team leader at Simplicity, was speechless when she first stepped into the room and saw the huge quantities of beads to be organized!

Our jewelry room is the where the heart of our ministry in Charlotte happens… Women overcoming human trafficking, addiction, incarceration, domestic abuse, as well as refugees and immigrants find purpose, peace and community in this room as they create the beautiful jewelry designs we sell to fund our work. These women’s lives are often full of chaos – when they come to Fashion & Compassion and we want them to find hope and healing rather than disorder and disarray.

Fashion Compassion sorting

Creative-types aren’t known for their organizational skills and this is true for our wonderful jewelry-project staff! They have amazing design skills and huge hearts, but keeping thousands of beads in order is not their specialty. We’re so grateful that Simplicity and Carolina Organizers took our project on… Simplicity developed a plan and we secured the supplies needed, then a dozen of Charlotte’s finest professional organizers went to work sorting and arranging beads for 2-3 hours one weekday night. Our jewelry room was transformed! The atmosphere of the room now matches the peaceful, happy spirit of the rest of the beautiful 116-year old Victorian house in Dilworth we call home.

Fashion Compassion beads

Everyone has unique gifts and skills this world is desperate for. I’m grateful that Simplicity and Carolina Organizers blessed us with the gift of their skills and time – we were certainly in desperate need! What do you have to offer to a world in need? Creativity, bringing order out of chaos, or one of millions of other gifts and skills? Consider what you have to offer and find a place where you can use your gifts for good.

Fashion Compassion

*Fashion & Compassion is a 501c3 non-profit organization providing part-time, transitional employment to women (and some men) in vulnerable communities around the world – including Charlotte! Fashion & Compassion’s products are available for sale at their website and their local boutique and workshop located at 1717 Cleveland Avenue. Please consider shopping with a purpose at Fashion & Compassion as you purchase gifts for loved ones this holiday season.

Fashion Compassion leader

By Michele Dudley, Executive Director, Fashion & Compassion

 

 


Read a Book, Give a Book Celebration

Read a Book, Give a Book

 

2016 READ a Book, GIVE a Book Celebration!

Reading is a life skill and it is unfortunate that during the summer months, many students lose valuable literacy skills when they stop reading during their break from school. Summer reading loss negatively impacts our struggling readers, and ultimately our entire community. Children who do not have access to books or adults who can read to them are especially susceptible to falling behind over the summer.
As a result, by the end of fifth grade, these students are approximately 2.5 years behind their peers in terms of reading ability.

This year Simplicity hosted their annual book drive with Augustine Literacy Project and Freedom School Partners in the month of May. A huge thank you to the Charlotte community for donating gently used children’s books to our Read a Book-Give a Book celebration. This year we donated 6,465 books to Montclaire and Rama Road elementary schools so every student will take home several books to read over the summer! A special thanks to Promising Pages for collecting 2,600 books!

 


The Relatives Basement Transformation

I first started volunteering at The Relatives 8 years ago after hearing about this Safe Place house through a friend.

safeplace-logo

The Relatives is a 24-hour, 365-day a year facility that answers crisis calls and houses children ages 7-17 for up to 14-days, even walk-ins.

I wanted a place to volunteer with my children who were young teens and needed a little perspective. I immediately fell in love with the mission, the staff and the organization. I was blessed to join the staff 4 years ago in the development office as well as coordinating volunteer activities.

In all of those years, the basement at the Relatives has always been a project that the staff (and volunteers) would roll their eyes in frustration with any attempt to make it better for the children and teens. It was too overwhelming to even know where to begin. The basement is a space designed for the children who come to us, to get what they need in order to make them feel at home in the Dilworth shelter. I have never seen the basement any way other than unorganized and cluttered…until the wonderful ladies from Simplicity came to save the day!

Relatives Volunteers

Simplicity teamed up with College Hunks Hauling Junk to volunteer an entire day sorting, organizing and hauling off many items that were not appropriate for the Relative children and teens. The pictures in this blog tell the real story of how these two companies transformed the space from complete chaos to a beautiful (as beautiful as a Dilworth basement can be) and efficient “clothing room” where the children we serve can immediately find what they need.

RelativAction

RelativeHouse

They designed and implemented a system that is now easily maintainable.

BEFORE1

BEFORE2

We are beyond grateful for the precious time and talents that Simplicity and the College Hunks gave us in order to make a difference for the over 4,000 youth and young adults we serve each year within The Relatives organization!

By Spencer Guthery

 


The Art of Organization & Science:

Project Scientist Logo

Simplicity Organizers Codify Project Scientist’s Educational Supplies

Professional organizers and scientists share some of the same attributes. Both are able to visualize a final outcome – by strategic plan and scientific method respectively – and set a goal to achieve it. Maybe this is what peaked Simplicity Organizers interest in Project Scientist. They jumped at the opportunity to provide the Charlotte non-profit with a donated day of expertise and manpower to develop an organizational system for PS’s expansive experiment supplies.

Project Scientist engages and empowers girls, ages 4-14 that have a passion, talent and aptitude for science, with an opportunity to expand their interests. By offering workshops, after school programs and summer camp opportunities, Project Scientist helps to maintain a keen interest in STEM fields for these talented girls and give them the confidence to pursue science as a career.

With a mission of their own to change their clients’ perspectives on their possessions and help them to identify what is most important, Simplicity Organizers knew they could give Project Scientist a helping hand with moving and organizing their ever-growing experiment supplies to a storage building in NoDa.

Simplicity team member, Betsy House, graciously agreed to take on the task at hand. Along with Deb Fletcher and Katie Puckett, they packed up bins, boxes and loose baggies full of experiment supplies such as batteries, popsicles sticks and balloons. With the help of PS Project Director, Shelly Biby, they moved everything the Uptown office to a 10 by 10 feet storage unit in NoDa.

Project Scientist1

Betsy House, Shelly Biby and Deb Fletcher getting it together at the Project Scientist’s storage facility in NoDa.

“The problem was that they were trying to do too much with one space. The office workspace was cluttered with all the experiment supplies,” House said. Shelly Biby added, “To say it was a little crowed would be an understatement.” The Simplicity team felt that a system needed to be put in place that was intuitive and easy for everyone involved.

Project Scientist 3

The storage hallway was packed with plastic bins and loose experiment items that needed to be separated.

Team leader House comes by her organizational skills honestly. Her background is in the retail industry where she provided wholesaling expertise for Ralph Lauren. The work taught her to visualize clothing displays that allowed for enhanced customer flow. Her planning and visualization skills cross over nicely to her work at Simplicity.

Using six, four-tiered, six feet high wire shelves, team members set about labeling and alphabetizing the experiment supplies. The concept allowed for greater efficiency, especially because Project Scientist relies on volunteers who pull supplies for classes, and then must return them to bins for future use.

Project Scientist 2

Betsy and Deb work organizing plastic bins in alphabetical order.

“The key is maintenance,” added House. “It doesn’t stay organized unless you are diligent about putting stuff away.”

Project Scientist is moving into its busiest season of instruction, five weeks of Project Scientist Academy, their yearly summer camp. Simplicity’s generous donation of time, expertise and manpower is invaluable to the educational experiences of these young scientists. “It’s definitely making a difference already. It’s clear what we have now that each item has its own space. This will make our lives so much easier” Biby said.

For more information about Project Scientist, go to www.projectscientist.org.

Guest Blog by Nancy Thomason


Simplicity Serves a client from the Joe Martin ALS Foundation

Joe Martin ALS

ALS

I am very thankful to Simplicity for taking the time to come out and save me from a disastrous hot mess of what I called a closet.  I moved into our apartment in October 2014, about two weeks after our son was born.  I never had the time to fully unpack, sort, and reorganize anything. Between my 9 year old son, our dog, becoming a new mom again and taking care of my husband Kevin who was recently diagnosed with ALS, I have barely had time to breathe.  I struggle each day to try and achieve a clean, neat, well-organized house. My constant on the go lifestyle and juggling everyday tasks makes it nearly impossible.  Our closet got so out of hand that every time I would walk by it I would just throw something else in and shut the door. I couldn’t even deal with it. I found myself in there some days trying to find things and all I could do was get stressed, turn around, and shut the door.

I knew I needed help, so I called the Joe Martin ALS Foundation and asked for help. Sarah Hayden, with the Foundation, came out that week and we brainstormed ways to help make my life easier. She suggested I contact Simplicity Organizers. I thought the idea was brilliant and was ecstatic at the thought of having professional organizers help me with my closet.

Simplicity Serves ALS

Simplicity Organizers with Melissa Clay (in the middle)

The results were phenomenal!  In a little less than two hours – I could see the floor again. Everything had a place.  Everything was neat, organized and easy to find.  I am extremely pleased with these ladies and the relief it provided.  I was impressed that they even hauled off my donated items and consignment for me.

BEFORE

ALS Closet Before

 

AFTER

 

ALS Closet After

I feel like I can breathe again, and I know it sounds silly that having a messy unorganized closet could cause so much aggravation, but believe me it was a nightmare in my mind. The simple things in life are what matter most! The smallest gesture can make all the difference in the world.  I am thankful and blessed to have the help from the Joe Martin ALS Foundation and Simplicity for making a difference in my family’s life.  I cant thank you enough.

Sincerely,

Melinda Clay


Earth Day

At Simplicity, we believe organizing and Earth Day belong together.  We want to help others adapt a simpler lifestyle that is environmentally conscious and sustainable.  It’s not just the fragile earth that will benefit.  Environmental sustainability makes for a more sustainable personal and family life too.   It’s a great example of “doing well by doing good”.

 

Earth Day

 

We have all heard the 3 R’s – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.  We would like to honor Earth Day with ideas and thoughts for both organizing our homes and lives while protecting our environment.

Reduce Reuse RecycleREDUCE

the amount of stuff you bring into your house.  Remember less is more. Cut back on paper clutter by reducing the amount of junk mail or credit card offers you receive.  Go to ecocycle.org for 6 steps for stopping junk mail.  Sign up to go paperless on bank and investment statements.  Don’t be a slave to email.   Unsubscribe from those you no longer enjoy. Use your delete button so you’re not letting others set your agenda by what fills your inbox. Purge your files annually to make room for what is truly important.   Remember that duplicating with both paper and electronic files is akin to “belts and suspenders”- overkill!

REUSE

containers for kids’ art supplies such as pens, markers, and paintbrushes.  Padded mailing envelops or packing boxes can often be reused. You’ll find lots of ways to repurpose things around your house if you simply think about it.  Remember the old sayings, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”  It’s old advice but still good advice.

RECYCLE

unused or unloved belongings.  There are countless ways to do this but for a start, we’ve compiled this list.

 

Let’s all celebrate Earth Day by challenging our families to adopt at least one new habit from one of the 3 R’s.  For your new behavior to become a habit, you’ll need to practice it.  Put it on your calendar.  Tell others what you’re doing so you’re more accountable.  And don’t let a little slip up cause a total relapse.  What starts out as a hope, will become a habit.

 

“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.” – Edwin Way Teale

 

 


Simplicity Serves: 7,680 Books and the Love of Reading!

 

Reading Tree

In March, I received an email from my mom, a reading specialist at a Title 1 school in Greensboro, letting me know about a request from the NC Department of Instruction asking communities to donate five gently used or new books to Title 1 schools.

Reading is a life skill and it is unfortunate that during the summer months, many students lose valuable literacy skills when they stop reading during their break from school.

According to the NC Department of Instruction, children from low-income families fall behind over the summer because they often go home to an environment where there are very few books or other reading resources. As a result, by the end of fifth grade, these students are approximately 2 ½ years behind their more affluent peers in terms of reading ability, primarily because of summer loss.  Summer reading loss negatively impacts our struggling readers, and ultimately our entire community.

I knew immediately this would be a perfect initiative for Simplicity!

I presented the idea of a book drive at our monthly team meeting and it was received with great excitement. We brainstormed ways to help spread the word about this promotion and set a goal to collect 1,000 books.  As we help our clients purge and organize their homes, large quantities of unwanted items accumulate, including children’s books.  Our clients have a much easier time letting go of their belongings when they know they are going to a deserving cause.

Since my mom’s birthday was a few weeks away, I contacted her school, Vandalia Elementary, and asked the principal her thoughts about throwing a surprise reading celebration-to not only celebrate my mom’s birthday and her 17 years of teaching reading, but more importantly to celebrate the joy of reading by giving each student a book.  Vandalia was thrilled with the idea and so our book drive began!

Shortly after, WCNC asked us to join Colleen Odegaard and Ramona Holloway to promote organizing tips for children and share the news about our book drive.

WCNC

As we began to promote the book collection, Alison Houser with Augustine Literacy Project contacted us to see if they could help.   She asked if we had chosen a school in the Charlotte area to receive the books.  I shared with her about our surprise donation to Vandalia with the first 1,000 books, but anything after that could be donated to another school in Charlotte.

Alison had just been in a meeting with Sedgefield Elementary and the principal said they were looking for help from the community to provide each child with five books to take home for the summer.   So it was an easy decision to donate any extra books to Sedgefield.

For convenience, several of my team members offered their homes as drop off locations throughout the city. Word spread quickly and the books began arriving.  It was the perfect time to clean off bookshelves before summer started.

Soon after we were invited to join John Carter on WBTV!

And the books kept coming!

Augustine Literacy volunteers helped us sort over a thousand books by grade level.

On April 9th, I drove with 1,ooo books to Greensboro to surprise my mom,

Surprising Mom

and share with the students at Vandalia. The celebration included a presentation, a read aloud, balloons, and cake.

Vandalia Book Celebration

With the support of other Greensboro community members and friends, 1,680 books were donated to Vandalia, allowing each child to take home 6 books for the summer.

Laurie reading

Laurie's Mom w Books

 

Vandalia Kids w books

 Reading Celebration

On June 10th, it was time to celebrate reading at Sedgefield Elementary! Thanks to the support of the Charlotte community, we were a part of the book drive that collected over 6,000 books for Sedgefield!

Sedgefield Elementary Celebration

Sonja Grant, a lead anchor on WCNC TV offered the closing remarks to the student body.

Sonia Grant speaking

What an incredible journey of collecting books!  Our original goal was to collect 1,000 children’s books, but with such wonderful support from both the Charlotte and Greensboro communities, we were able to help collect almost 8,000 books for two Title 1 schools!

As your children grow as readers, and the new school year is beginning, please consider making more room on your bookshelves by donating any lower level children’s books to Title 1 schools.  With your generous donations, we can help prevent summer reading loss.

Reading is such a critical life skill! Let’s continue to support this initiative and share our love of reading!

Elementary Kids with donated books

Special Thanks:

Alison Houser and Laura Freeman, Augustine Literacy Project

Kimberly Robertson and Dawn Amundson, Vandalia Elementary

Ivy Gill and Sophia Crawford, Sedgefield Elementary 

Ramona Holloway, Colleen Odegaard, Larry Sprinkle, and Sonja Gantt, WCNC TV

Brennan Shearer, Promising Pages

Crystal O’Gorman, Freelance writer for the Charlotte Observer

NC Department of Instruction

Simplicity Clients and the Charlotte Community